Muay Thai Vs Boxing: All You Need To Know About Their Effectiveness And Flaws

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Last Updated on February 16, 2021

The Muay Thai vs boxing battle is unending, but really shouldn’t be taken as such. 

In MMA, for instance... 

You would find it hard to see a nak muay or boxer survive solely on either craft. 

But if you are innocently oblivious of their technicality or effectiveness, or just want to pick one up for fitness, you can learn more to weigh your options. 


I’ll breakdown areas where Muay Thai and boxing stand out. It helps to have an idea of what you’re getting into right off the bat.

Also, battle or not, it’s not to be intrigued by what it’d be like to be in a Muay Thai vs boxing street fight with these skills, especially if you want to learn one of them. 

Relax. We’d get to that. 😉

But first, I'll point out a few clear differences.

Main Differences Between Muay Thai  Vs Boxing

The main differences between Muay Thai  and boxing are:

  • Muay Thai  martial art uses eight limbs to strike, whereas boxing uses only the fists
  • Muay Thai doesn't have the best standing defense, whereas boxing trains you with superb defensive footwork
  • Muay Thai  uses a neutral, square stance, whereas boxing typically adopts a side stance
  • Muay Thai  fighters parry and block attacks, whereas boxing incorporates block and evasion with quick footwork 
  • Muay Thai  moves (kicks) are prone to a takedown, whereas boxing stance exposes boxers to easy kicks 
  • Muay Thai  fighters generally hundreds of career fights racked up from a young age, whereas boxers have fewer fight records
  • Muay Thai combos usually involve a quick burst of jabs and a kick, whereas boxing has quicker combo moves

Muay Thai  Stance vs Boxing Stance

This is perhaps the most significant difference between Muay Thai and boxing. 

They both adopt a stance that puts the fighter in a position to move their limbs easily for better defense and offense in their respective crafts.

But which is better?

Muay Thai uses a square stance with the elbows slightly out and hips facing forward. The front foot is also slightly forward, while the rear foot curves out at only about a 40-degree angle. This puts the fighter in a sweet position to throw kicks, elbows, and fists, and, more importantly, to defend kicks.

Boxing, on the other hand, has a narrower and longer stance. The rear foot goes all the way back as much as 90 degrees. The hip is then turned outward to expose the side of the boxer rather than the chest and stomach. This puts the boxer on his toes, and able to dodge and duck at will., with impressive footwork and head movement.

In the basic Muay Thai position, the nak muay wouldn’t be able to evade the punches easily. He’d be left with blocking and parrying close range punches, which can be overwhelming. In the same coin, a boxer’s long stance would expose him to easy kicks from the nak muay. 

In the fight between the kickboxer and boxer below, you may get a better understanding of what I’m talking about. And right at the beginning of the duel too:

But this is totally different from the reality of a “real fight.” The boxer was restricted (at his own will) and at the mercy of his opponent who took full advantage of the situation.

Boxing Vs Muay Thai: Which Is Better For MMA?

If you are asking to leave one for the other, you'll have a tough time in the MMA. But you probably already know that.

A mixed martial artist would capitalize on the flaws of a “pure” boxer or Muay Thai fighter. 

It’s no surprise there are only a few UFC guys that can actually kick like Muay Thai pros or punch like pro boxers. Plus, the rules of MMA make it difficult to use a sole fighting style in the ring. For instance, the Thai clinch that would easily lead to a rain of elbow or knee strikes could easily drop even the most experience nak muay to the ground in MMA. The rules are way different, and not in clear favor of one martial art.

The point is, you can't totally write off either of them. Learn how to box and have an understanding of kicking as well.

It's left to you to pick one as your base or favorite. As for me, I always advise aspiring pros to go with the better trainer or most equipped gym in their area. A good coach can change everything regardless of which style you decide to specialize in. And a well-equipped gym most times, means they take their craft seriously. 

But what about MMA vs boxing? Is there a huge difference? Or maybe even Muay Thai vs BJJ? Which one do you think you'd write off of the three now?

Muay Thai  Vs Boxing: Which Would Win In A Street Fight

Street fights are unpredictable. And they surely don’t always go in anyone’s favor regardless of your training.

But let's assume it's a typical fight with two guys standing, unharmed, and ready to pounce on each other. An untrained guy is most likely going to throw a bunch of haymakers.

You can swiftly counter these usually shabby blows with a duck and jab attack. Learning boxing would teach you to evade or block strikes with alarming ease. 

On the other hand, Muay Thai would give you a longer range of attack. Yes, it's dangerous to fly in to kick your opponent in a street, but that's if you're unskilled. Besides, kicks like the teep and low kick are easy and safe to pull off even for beginners. What's more, you have the element of surprise in your favor.

Check out what happens to the street bully in this video:

Right from the first kick on the calves, to timing his moves, you can tell he’s trained. And low kicks like that one would be bread and butter in a Muay Thai class. 

Generally, with Muay Thai, you would have more attack moves in your arsenal even when your opponent is in close range. In a clinch situation, you can easily knock out your opponent or turn things bloody with a knee, or elbow to the face.

In the end, it's your choice to pick the art you want to master. Anyone would work effectively in a fight, with Muay Thai boasting of a ton of moves. Only thing is, it takes way longer to master compared with boxing.

Remember, getting into a fight should be your last option.

Boxing Vs Muay Thai For Self Defense And Fitness:  Which Is Better?

If you're looking to use Muay Thai or boxing for self-defense, it's only normal you'd also make your workout routine.

So which one’s better to have a few tricks up your sleeve in real-life situations and help you get a good workout?

Undoubtedly, you'd get a good day's workout with either sport... and also learn practical moves you can use to defend yourself.

Boxing, for one, has one of the most rigorous training routines among sports. And Muay Thai would give you equally tasking aerobic and anaerobic workouts in its fitness sessions.

The dealbreaker would be that, you can learn and master boxing in a shorter period.

So, if you're moving to a hostile area or just need to learn to protect yourself, but in a timely fashion, boxing is a better choice.

Boxing Or Muay Thai: Which Is Easier To Learn?

Of all the muay vs boxing debate I’ve heard, this is where we can pick a clear winner.

Boxing is no doubt the easier martial art to learn. You basically only need to learn how to throw punches, defend punches (with your fists wrapped up with the best boxing hand wraps), and get fluid footwork. In a couple of months, you should be sound in the fundamentals of the sport. But be ready to sweat it out in the ring.

In fact, you are more likely to find more skilled boxing instructors than you'd find seasoned Muay Thai senseis. Some folks actually go on holiday to Thailand to devote a week or month to training Muay Thai. 

However, I don't in any way mean that muay is hard to learn. It only has a longer learning curve, as it should, since you'll be learning to use 8 limbs to fight. Besides, boxing being easier to learn doesn't make its training routine any less gruesome.

Is Muay Thai  More Effective Than Boxing?

By now, you should understand that its effectiveness depends on the situation. But being a common issue, it’s still worth mentioning. 

In a duel where there are rules set, Muay Thai would be more effective than boxing. The nak muay is free to throw kicks, knees, or elbows, while the boxer can only punch. Regardless of the boxer's evasion and defensive prowess, he'd be at the mercy of the nak muay.

But in more practical situations, like in MMA or a street fight, you really can't tell. Boxing actually comes out with a bit of an edge. You have a better defense against takedowns, less risk of slipping, and impressive footwork.

If you are intrigued by the ability to master the striking art of eight limbs and can dedicate the necessary time to learn it, go ahead and train Muay Thai.

Wrapping Up

Decision time:

Which fighting style is better for you, boxing, or Muay Thai?

If you want to learn to fight in a few months, practice boxing. If you are passionate about seeing practically all your limbs into a weapon, train Muay Thai.

If you want to be a prolific mixed martial artist, you'll have to learn both. But you can take one more seriously as you practice. You'd discover the one you like better as you train.

What's stopping you now? 

Go ahead and hit the gym. No excuses! 😉


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